Photo: John Haynes. Collage: Donna Maroni.
The beneficial effects of music on people with cognitive issues has long been recognized by health care professionals. Dan Cohen, founder of Music and Memory, added the idea of personalized music to individuals in long term care facilities. We had an intern from UNC help to interview residents and family members to gather favorite tunes, create the playlists on iTunes and then assign iPods and audio equipment storage boxes to those who would get the most from the program.
When the request came out for a large number of iPods our Phase V residents answered the call. In true Carolina Meadows fashion, a group of neo-carpenters, under direction of resident Jules Samitz, a former industrial arts teacher, went to work in the Samitz’ workshop. Working right in his garage, the crew constructed wooden boxes to house the iPod and headphones. In less than two weeks 40 stations came pouring in, painted a bright yellow to attract attention from family members, volunteers and staff, encouraging them to offer the iPod filled with all of their residents’ favorite music.
Since we started this program, you can walk down the halls and see residents with headphones on, just smiling, singing, or moving to the beautiful sounds that fill their ears and hearts with memories from days gone by. Knowing that music is housed in your long-term memory, which often often remains even when cognitive impairment is severe, is an interesting fact, but seeing the joy personalized music brings and the awakening it often provides is far more exciting.